Combat in Cyberspace: Best Twitter Feuds in Hockey

Published on January 18th, 2014

By:  Ken Will (@PensNation_K)

Everybody loves a good Twitter feud. Let’s face it–it’s pretty much the internet’s version of trashy reality TV. The hockey community has had its share of conflict via social media, and the past week has given us some instant classics. Here is a look at some of the best moments in hockey’s keyboard pugilism.

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Credit: bigbeacon.org

Ben Scrivens vs Canoe.ca Sports Blog

Wild vs. Oilers

Credit: Toronto Star

The Edmonton Oilers made a splash on Wednesday afternoon by dealing Devan Dubnyk to Nashville in exchange for Matt Hendricks and acquiring goaltender Ben Scrivens from the LA Kings. Canadian Blogger Anthony Vasquez-Peddie follows Mrs. Scrivens a little too closely on Twitter and judging from her twitter feed, she was very happy in Los Angeles (But if you go further into her timeline, she was pretty pleasant in Toronto as well). Regardless, Vasquez turned Jenny Scrivens into public enemy number one in Edmonton. Canada hadn’t been this shamed since Ilya Bryzgalov badmouthed the Winnipeg parks department.

As you might expect, Ben Scrivens (who is an Alberta native) was furious over the article and the comments that were directed toward his wife through social media:

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Soooo…things are off to a rocky start for Scrivens family in Edmonton. If he was trying to draw up evidence to come up with a victim in this trade, then all that this Tony Vasquez-fella really needed to say was “Scrivens is going from playing behind Drew Doughty, Matt Greene and Slava Voynov in Los Angeles–to what is by far the league’s worst defense in Edmonton.

What did we learn? This is an example of how it’s not always sunshine and roses for the lifestyle enjoyed by professional athletes. It probably wasn’t the popular move with the Oilers’ PR department, but you have to hand it to Scrivens for sticking up for his wife who was pulled into public criticism for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Bonus points for being so hot under the collar that he exceeded his plan of four tweets–5/4 was a solid finishing blow.  

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San Jose Sharks vs ESPN

If there was a Hall of Fame for Twitter feuds, this one would be a first ballot selection. During the summer of 2013, the Syfy channel’s “Sharknado” was trending pretty much everywhere. The powers that run the ESPN twitter feed thought it would be cute to get in on the action and playfully messaged the official account of the San Jose Sharks.

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Innocent enough, right?

But the Sharks had little interest in playing along with the worldwide leader in sports (that don’t end in “ockey”)

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As you can tell by the number of RT’s and Favorites, that went over pretty well in the hockey community. The Sharks twitter continues to jab at the network from time to time, but nothing can top the tweet that started it all.

What did we learn? Not bad publicity for mid-July in southern California. It’s a lot more fun when teams don’t take social media so seriously. 

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Tom Sestito’s 13-year old Sister vs Keith Olberman

Days after receiving a scathing tongue lashing from Penguins’ play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald (in which Steigy showed no signs of personal bias against the Philadelphia Flyers whatsoever) Vancouver’s Tom Sestito found himself in the spotlight after accruing 27 penalty minutes in just one second of playing time.

Keith Olbermann, a once-liked sports anchor from a once-liked sports highlight show, took to the air with his opinions of Canucks’ winger on Tuesday night. 

Can we petition to change the title to the most hyperbolic three minutes in sports?

One Sestito did not appreciate the segment, but it was Tom’s 13-year sister Victoria who fired back —with some assistance from her math teacher:

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Whoa there, language. That’s grounds for an indoor recess.

She added: “The Sestito household enjoys your arrogant left wing blurbs and we are looking forward to your next firing:)” Olbermann, not one to sit back and take a punch, came back with this:

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(Credit to AwfulAnnouncing.com)

“How come HE took the joke well but you didn’t?”

Probably because she’s 13, Keith.

It’s not so surprising the Olbermann publicly came back after a teenager, but what’s easy to miss here is that the TV personality implies that he actually took the time to calculate that he does indeed get paid more by the second that Tom Sestito. So what did Tom think of all this? He just rolled with the punches (quite literally), thanked Keith for the publicity and pandered for followers.  His closing thoughts on the matter?

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What did we learn? At the end of the scrum, the man who racked up 27 PIMs in :01 came out of this as the most mature of the three.

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Florida Panthers President vs Devils Fans

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Penguins’ goalie Tom Barrasso hides after ruining the best work of Ken Wregget’s career

Once upon a time, the Florida Panthers made the playoffs. When this happens, there is a tradition of throwing rats on the ice after the Panthers score. In 2012, the NHL warned the Panthers that these delays could result in a penalty and fines. Florida Panthers team president Michael Yormark (Twitter: PanthersYormark) released a statement that the team would cease sales of plastic rats and went on to accuse fans of the New Jersey Devils of throwing the rats onto their own ice in Sunrise, FL in hopes of penalizing the Panthers.

Devils fan Laura Rubino decided to respond to the acusation on twitter. To her surprise, Yormark (with his 3,047 followers) was open to the debate and responded:

AKTKTt

Holy smokes, that guy looks terrifying

The Devils communications department reached out to Rubino and offered her the opportunity to watch Game 6 from a luxury suite at the Prudential Center. By the time the Devils beat the Panthers in seven games, Rubino’s 70 followers had rallied and surpassed Yorkmark’s numbers.

What did we learn? It’s embarrassing to lose. It’s even more embarrassing to lose when you’re cocky.

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Dejan Kovacevic vs Canada

He’s well-known to hockey fans in Pittsburgh and if you’re a loyal reader, it’s likely that you have celebrated his writing and condemned his work in the same breath. Tribune Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic made waves in Canada with his 2013 editorial declaring that Pittsburgh had displaced Toronto as the “hockey Mecca” [Move over Toronto, it’s our game].

The backlash from Toronto spilled over from the radio shows to Twitter and the ill-feelings have yet to fade for all of our friends north of the border. The latest blow back came on Friday night with stats-aficionado Tyler Dellow (Twitter: @mc79hockey) after Dejan entered his own name into the Google search bar and pulled up an inflammatory article from the good people at Days of Y’orr [Pittsburgh Clown Dejan Kovacevic thinks Bruins defense, goaltending isn’t better than Ottawa]

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The exchange that ensued had the columnist and the blogger trading blows over bandwagon fans, TV ratings and the famous PHWA Ballot incident from the conclusion of the 2013 season that landed Alex Ovechkin on the first team at right wing and second team on left wing–despite not having played left wing all season. To be fair, there were some confusing issues with the voting process and Dejan was not the only writer who made this mistake, but the Canadian contingency gained some ammunition when Dejan stated that any amount of effort that you put into learning a sport is wasted energy  in his piece on sports journalism.

So the war waged on:

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This wasn’t Dellow’s first run at things associated with Pittsburgh this week either:

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Truthfully, Dellow completely lost his mind last weekend when his Edmonton Oilers beat the Penguins in overtime. There’s something about the black and gold that seems to incite his rage.

But back to our protagonist..

Kovacevic has also been critical of the city of Vancouver:

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The worst Olympics ever? That seems awfully harsh considering what was going on in Berlin’s “core” in 1936 or Sarajevo in 1984. To his credit, he did make a stunning prediction regarding the 2011 Stanley Cup Final:

Johnny Marr:Who do you have hoisting the Stanley Cup next week?
Dejan Kovacevic: I nominate Vancouver’s police chief, because he and his officers will have their work cut out for them when those people destroy their city.
-June 2, 2011

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Vancouver: June 15, 2011 (Photography Credit: Aaron Yeo — Flickr)

 

What did we learn? When you play Pittsburgh, you play the whole city. When you go after Canada, things get weird. 

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Krys Barch vs NHL Owners

It was a chilly, late-September evening in Ontario and the NHL lockout was 12-days deep when Krys Barch cracked open a couple (8) of Old Vienna’s and went to work on this masterpiece:

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He went on…

“I sit here from Gand Bend, Ontario putting a pen to my heart and writing on paper what bleeds out. My name is Krys Barch. I have played approximately 5 1/2 years in the NHL and have worked for every second of it. I haven’t been a 1st round pick, bonus baby or a son of a hall of famer. I have made it through sweating, bleeding, cut Achilles, broken hands, concussions, broken orbital bones, 8 teeth knocked out, etc, etc, etc.

“I sit in front of a fire, 8 OV deep and starting a bottle of Porte that will assist in the translations of my emotions to words! No different than a truck driver, farmer or line worker, I have a shot and a beer. Not to deal with the days ahead but to ease the nerves from what my body has endured the days before.

“I sit here with both my boys sleeping and my wife due with our 3rd. My thoughts racing on what I can conquer tomorrow to get our family ahead. Sometimes, wondering if I should have existed when a word and a gun solidified and solved all problems. I feel the Wild West would more simplified than the world we live in now when an employer who makes billions of dollars and a league with record revenues  can tell me that I can’t do the things that my heart tells my me to do!

“All what my heart tells me to do far surpasses what my body has endured. As I write this I dive deeper and deeper into my bottle of Porte giving wider views to the depths of my heart.  As my pen warms from the fire, Neil Young and a fall Canadian night, I wonder how this work stoppage effects the owners?

“I wonder if the owners of Boston, New York, Washington, etc, etc, have endured any of the injuries that I or any other player in the NHL have endured. Still they probably sit their smoking the same brand of cigar, sipping the same cognac, and going on vacation. To one of five houses they own. While we sit here knowing they want to take 20% of our paychecks. One half to 3/4 of my peers will have to work for the next 50 years of their lives.

“Congratulations to the lucky select few that I have played with who have made salaries that they can choose to do whatever they want when they are done. But I have played most who do not!

“If the NHL wants to teams in the south or struggling markets than the players along with the financially well to do teams need to start working together. Or they need to start to move teams to the North where they will make money. The system allows the owners to continually take money from the players contract after contract where eventually over 40 some years the owners will have 80% of revenue. The only way to stop the work stoppages long into the future is fix the root cause of the problems.

“The lockout is a procedure to take from the players to pay for the NHL mistakes. Let not allow the NHL to make any more mistakes.

“Let the league and the players to come together to fix the mistakes that have been made and make sure non are made in the future. Let’s get a deal where the owners, players, and fans benefit from. We’re we can be sitting around in beautiful Canadian falls around a fire playing and watching the game we love.

“Here’s to the truth and our next conversation. As always speaking from my heart! Goodnight! Like me or hate me I speak what comes from my heart!”

In the end, Barch had composed 26 separate tweets and set the tone for a lockout where a gag order fell upon the 30 teams while the players remained outspoken. Whether you agreed with him or not (or understood his ramblings), Barch was attempting to tell the story that is usually ignored when there is a work stoppage.  The top ten percent of players and their salaries might be what gets all of the attention, but the NHLPA’s fight is justified by the guys like Barch who don’t have that kind of job security.

Keep in mind, this transpired live on the internet to a wide audience. The tone was somber to the point where you almost feared for Barch’s dark state of mind during the rant–particularly as the winger transitioned from OV to Porte.

What did we learn? Beyond the pictures of teammates eating alone, goofy jokes and generic PR announcements–there is a very real person behind that twitter handle. 

Ken Will (@PensNation_K)


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